Trailer: Stronger

If Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day wasn’t your thing, and you are yearning for a less ‘rah-rah-rah’ story about the Boston Marathon bombing, well, I am not entirely sure you will get that with David Gordon Green’s survivor story, Stronger. While it focuses less on ‘finding those responsible’ and more on ‘dealing with the trauma’ of these incidents, it is definitely swinging for the fences in terms of Oscar-bait kind of performances. Nothing wrong with that when you have Jake Gyllenhaal doing the heavy lifting. Gyllenhaal has proven over the past decade that he one of the best American actors working today, whether it be in a weird arthouse thriller like Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy or Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, or in mainstream Hollywood adult movies such as Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoner, or Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition.

Jeff, a 27-year-old, working-class Boston man who was at the marathon to try and win back his ex-girlfriend Erin. While waiting for her at the finish line the blast occurs, and he loses both his legs. After regaining consciousness in the hospital, his battle has just begun as he tackles months of physical and emotional rehabilitation with the unwavering support of Erin and his family.

Cinecast Episode 416 – List List

Last week we talked about all of the films coming in the next week that we’d have a tough time reviewing them all. As a consequence, we review none of them. Instead, we just glide from this to that, as Moses Znaimer would say, it is flow, not show. We look at our Top 5 Danny Boyle films, and as we are wont to do, talk at length about Sunshine. A medley of Mamet, Soderbergh, Bullock, Sorkin, Halloween horror and various other bon bons are extracted from the candy box. We call these: “shoot the shit” shows and we hope you find something worthwhile in the grab-bag. Note that the show is almost 100% spoiler free this week!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Friday One Sheet: Joe

I suppose since I posted the Under the Skin and Jodorowsky’s Dune posters earlier this week with their respective trailers, and was remiss in posting the new trailer for David Gordon Green’s Joe (It’s up at Apple’s Trailer Page) here is a good place to have a gander at the earth tones and and working class handsome on evidence. An unusual credit block placement and relatively subtle critics quotes, coupled with the huge trees appropriately in the background, give a pretty balanced design here. Nothing flashy, but really solid. Just like the film itself, which is very much worth your time.

DVD Review: Prince Avalanche

Director: David Gordon Green
Screenplay: David Gordon Green
Based on a Film by: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
Starring: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault, Joyce Payne
Country: USA
Running Time: 94 min
Year: 2013
BBFC Certificate: 15

David Gordon Green has had an unusual career. He made a name for himself in 2000 with his debut feature, George Washington. This was a small indie drama with no name actors which picked up a lot of acclaim and he followed this up with a handful of other fairly low key independent features which also got fairly well received by critics and festivals. However, in 2008 he made a surprising diversion into broad stoner comedy territory with Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Green’s old college friend Danny McBride. The success of this prompted another couple of low-brow excursions in Your Highness and The Sitter. These weren’t anywhere near as successful though and I think a lot of fans of Green’s early work thought his career was stumbling down a weed-hazed spiral (there are fans of these later films though it must be said).

However, word of Green’s next film, Prince Avalanche, suggested a U-turn back to his indie drama roots, albeit with hints of his ‘second phase’ as a comedy writer/director due to its star Paul Rudd being part of the Judd Apatow stable. Prince Avalanche sees Rudd play Alvin, a man that has taken on a job painting lines on the long remote country roads cutting through the forests of Texas in 1988, a year after fires ripped through the state. Joining him for the summer is his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch). The two have vastly different personalities. Alvin is a self-confessed outdoorsman who strives to “reap the rewards of solitude” whereas Lance is a horny youngster who has no interest in sleeping under the stars and counts the hours until the weekend comes around when he can try to get some action with the local ‘talent’. Of course they clash during their summer together and cracks start to appear in Alvin’s facade of satisfaction and superiority as we learn his relationship with his girlfriend is crumbling.

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French Trailer for David Gordon Green’s Joe

Joe is a fair bit more ‘paced’ than this condensed 120 second overload implies – playing much more like a companion piece to Jeff Nichols’ Mud. If the quiet remake that was Prince Avalanche was a rumbling of David Gordon Green was itching to return to the early pictures that made him an indie director of note, this film shows the director fully back in the saddle. And, much as I enjoyed The Pineapple Express and even Your Highness, bless him for getting back to his roots. Nicolas Cage’s twin careers of quiet melancholy (Leaving Las Vegas, Bring Out The Dead) and maniac bluster (Wild At Heart, Vampires Kiss and too many to count) have finally converged into a single thing: A nuanced and still lively performance delivered here as the title character. The film is about killing trees and surrogate fathers, and is gorgeous and engaging from start to finish.

Trailer: Prince Avalanche

Welcome back David Gordon Green! Looking to combine the rural regionlism of his earlier pictures with the goofball charm of his latter, along comes Prince Avalanche, a not in a hurry to get anywhere type of film that lets Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch hang out in their idleness while painting yellow lines in the middle of the road. This looks really great, not just the usual Sundance-y kind of film, and I have now set my hopes for this one at the Withnail & I level.

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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Red Planet

2000 USA. Director: Antony Hoffman. Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp.

This is my kind of B-Movie… one that actually takes itself deadly serious but remains no less shitty and fun to watch. I enjoyed this so much I am almost inspired to rewatch DePalma’s Mission to Mars to see who out-camps who. The writers of Red Planet sought to compile the most space cliche elements they could find into 90 minutes, it is kind of remarkable how many films it emulates, worthy of a drinking game. Despite being the captain of the spaceship and worthy of some nominal authoritative import, Carrie-Anne Moss is perpetually leered at by the camera, including a goofy shower scene, and some downright absurd nipples-popping through shirt shots as she barks order over an intercom to Houston. Now that is my kind of captain. Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore are at that point in their careers where they still got it, and they are pretty fun to watch. Terrence Stamp fumbles through the film with some of the worst dialogue to spew, as the writers crowbar in the science vs. religion theme in laughable doses. Despite all of these goofy parts of the film it at times is surprisingly competent visually, some interesting ship and costume design, a couple interesting action sequences. I am giving it four stars not because it is so bad it is good, but because it is that unique hybrid where the bad parts are fun but there are good parts that kind of hold it all together to make it as a whole, an enjoyable space romp.

The Sitter

2011 USA. Director: David Gordon Green. Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor.

Not horrible, but not very good either. At this point, David Gordon Green needs to earn back my trust before I see anything he does ever again. Jonah Hill is kind of funny and he keeps the movie watchable. I definitely lol’d a few times. I also liked the idea of giving each of the kids their own story arc even if it is kind of shallow and obvious. It was interesting watching this movie with Adventures in Babysitting sitting at the forefront of my brain. Comparing and contrasting always gives a film some sort of merit. Altogether, funny bits but fairly disposable stuff.

Jonah Hill is funny.

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It’s Halftime in America: Don’t Change Horses Mid-Stream

I do not watch The Super Bowl. Generally, I am more interested in the movie trailers and whatnot that more or less tell me what films to avoid this summer, which are aired to great expense during the big game. Curiously, this year most of them made it to the internet a few days early; thus, I am a little bit late on this bit of tempestuousness hiding as a lengthy advertisement. My assumption that I had seen all of the biggies before Super Bowl Sunday was flat out false! Colour me surprised (and playing catch-up) when I came across this Chrysler Ad that plays like a bit of good old fashion propaganda. I’ll take this ‘entertainment’ any day over those gawd-awful Act of Valour ads that demonstrate Micheal Bay has been setting down the film-grammar for military recruiting for the past few decades, only to give birth to the perfect synergy of popcorn-entertainment and propaganda.

But I digress.

I am a fairly big fan of David Mamet penned Wag The Dog, and this commercial fits nicely into the “Don’t Change Horses Mid-Stream” Ads (themselves an echo of the Ronald Reagan Campaign “Morning in America spots in 1984.) that gets Dustin Hoffman hired, rewarded and then killed, in that film. Even more amusing is that it was directed by David Gordon Green, striding the line between original Americana, George Washington, and bad 1980s remake, The Sitter.

Apparently this has ruffled a lot of feathers. Clint’s made a statement, as has Karl Rove, and a lot of that is covered here.

Cinecast Episode 208 – It’s Gonna Be Ass-Tastic!

Welcome to another edition of the Cinecast, wherein the boys talk a little Joe Wright and Super-Spy-Assassins with the weekend release of Hanna. There is no Gamble on the show today, but in order to properly plumb the depth and nuance of Your Highness, we bring in a mystery guest. Then it is on to Kurt’s 3 days in Asheville, NC watching action films and stunt folks from around the world ply their trade at ActionFest. A recap of some of the highlight titles (from Bangkok stunt-reel filmmaking to white knuckle mountain climbing thrillers and Mixed Martial Arts Kumite) along with plans to revisit next year. DVD and netflix picks round out a show that is on-target and efficient, but a tad on the foul-tongued side. Fair warning.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Your Highness Trailer

After several heavy-duty atmospheric arthouse films (George Washington, All The Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels) David Gordon Green appeared to have found a particular niche, indie North Carolina indie dramas with some genre wiggle room from romantic to coming of age to thriller. But then low and behold, The Pinapple Express and work-for-hire gigs on “Eastbound and Down” revealed a very goofy broad comedy side of things, just off-kilter from the mainstream, but not espousing too much pretense. It is not quite a 180 degree turn, but there you have it. Now it looks like he has assembled a lot of Team Pineapple (James Franco, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and his cinematographer Tim Orr) and picked up two of the cultiest geek-crush girls, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel and dropped them all into a stoner comedy set in the Middle Ages, Your Highness. The trailer does not offer any hint of a framing story, but the contemporary language and wink-wink aspects seem to indicate some sort of drug induced fantasy, as if instead of Peter Falk telling a fairy tale to Fred Savage, you have two stoners self-participating in their own hazy imaginations. Either way, the trailer certainly tickles my funny bone in the same manner as Pineapple Express did, and in lieu of Gary Cole, we have a personal favourite, Charles Dance.

The trailer is tucked under the seat. Warning: It is a Redbander and raunchy, delightfully stupid and runs a curiously long 3min30sec.

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